Both Sides of the Screen: Adam Baldwin Talks #GamerGate

Some say that #GamerGate is winding to a close, while others are saying quite the opposite. We have come a long way since #GamerGate began and the conversation has evolved in many ways. Earlier today, I had the opportunity to conduct a phone interview with actor Adam Baldwin, who is one of the most publicly visible individuals in support of the #GamerGate movement.

You may know him as the Hero of Canton, or as Agent John Casey from Chuck; but there is much more to Adam Baldwin than the characters we have come to know and love in film and on TV. As you may know, Baldwin has been very active in the #GamerGate discussion online; he is even credited with giving the movement its name. Baldwin’s interest in the issues the gaming industry is currently facing isn’t because of a love for video games; it stems from something deeper when looking at the state of journalism as a whole. Below I discuss with Baldwin his views on the subject, and what he feels is at the root of the conversation. 

Read my interview with Adam Baldwin below:

APGNation: #GamerGate has come to have a number of meanings to individuals on both sides of the argument. As the person credited for starting the movement on Twitter, what does #GamerGate mean to you? What inspired you to get involved?

Adam Baldwin: Well, there were a series of videos that were thrown out, I don’t even recall how they came over my Twitter feed, but there they were; and you know, I click on things… I’m a curious guy. I started watching it, and it seemed like an interesting story that the Internet Aristocrats had put out there. It was well sourced, but it had some salacious [details], which I don’t really care about. Those are irrelevant to me; what people do in their private life. There’s this old Nick Danger Firesign Theater thing that says, “I don’t care about your private life or what his name is, I’m here to see Nancy!” I abide by that ethos.

However, when it does come to collusion and conflicts of interest, it does become part of the story. Be that as it may, we all know what that is. It was really the catalyst for the rest of what was interesting to me, which is journalistic ethics. And also the corruption that was going on, which has now come to light through a series of leaks in an e-mail chain from [GameJournoPros].

So that’s what peaked my interest. Also, when I see certain buzzwords start

You’re not going to just shut up gamers. I admire that

flowing through a storyline. I’ve been reading about the left for twelve years now or more, and the term social justice jumped out at me. Whenever I see the term social justice, I think injustice, because it’s not justice. There’s a great video by Dennis Prager out there where he’s at a panel and [the panelists] are asked how they define social justice. The social justice warriors can’t do it, and then Prager goes about answering the question. It’s a very fascinating video, and I defer to him and give attribution where I can. However, that buzzword peaked my interest so I just decided to follow along.

When I’m on Twitter I’ll Retweet articles from the left, right, and center that come along that are interesting and provocative at times just to see where the conversation goes. #GamerGate has become to me now, [in the middle stages], sunlight being shined upon an industry that needed some sunlight. I know lots of gamers. For instance, I have friends who are famous guys who are hardcore gamers,[…] so I find this whole situation interesting. Why not see how it unfolds? The reaction from the anti-#GamerGate crowd, to cry victimhood, to play the white knight coming in and rescuing the damsel in distress, seems very hypocritical. Why aren’t they just transparent? 

There’s a lot of history with the training of folks and why they lash out. A lot of projection goes on. […] There were a lot of claims of conspiracy being thrown out by the anti-#GamerGate crowd in the early going to try and stifle dissent, and it didn’t work. Gamers are a tenacious bunch. They like to win; as a matter of fact, they are programmed to win. You’re not going to just shut up gamers. I admire that; I admire their tenacity and [the] courage of many of the gamers out there.

[…] And sure, you have to put this disclaimer out there: Are there trolls out there? Yes. On both sides? Yes. We don’t know who they are, as most of them are anonymous. You can’t name them in real life or know who they are, so I ignore them. They are not a part of the story, and you can’t hide behind them.

APGNation: Do you consider yourself a gamer, and if so, what have you been playing recently?

AB: I’m not a hardcore gamer. I’ve done a little bit of gaming, however I focus mostly on chess, golf, and riding my mountain bike. I’ve tried Halo, Killswitch, Grand Theft Auto… I’ve tried Angry Birds. I’ve also tried the Firefly game, the recent mobile game.

#GamerGate supporters are, in my opinion, winning the argument or have already Won the argument

I’ve done voices for some games, so I’m associated with the industry. But I wouldn’t say I’m a hardcore gamer. My hands and brain haven’t been trained to use the controller properly. If there was a first person shooter game, and I’m sure there is that I’m not aware of, that had an actual rifle as the controller, I could do that.

For me, I really just haven’t learned how the buttons and switches work, and I know it takes time to do that. It gets frustrating for me so I put it down and go play golf, or chess.

APGNation: On Twitter recently you have tweeted about the differences between Justice and Social Justice. In your own words, what are the differences between the two? What is the best way for those in favor of #GamerGate to push back against the social justice narrative that is being driven by those who oppose the movement? 

AB: I’m going to paraphrase Dennis Prager, where he talks about [when] you see the term social justice you have a modifier on the term justice. So, politely ask your social justice friends what is the difference between social justice and justice, and see how they answer that. Prager goes on to say there’s justice or injustice, and he describes social justice as the egalitarian ideal; equality. I like to call it, “sameness.” None of us are the same. We’re all individuals. I’m a firm believer in the individual and individual liberties, individual rights and individual sovereignty. The egalitarian ideal is that everyone is the same and controlled by a vanguard elite. 

This is what we see in the GameJournoPro list of e-mails. That’s who they are; they are the vanguard elite. They consider themselves the masterminds, and they want to tell you basically how to think. So, I’m opposed to that. Prager goes on to say [that] under social justice rich and poor is an injustice. But under justice, rich and poor is not an injustice. With equal justice under the law, you have the lady with the scales of justice who is blindfolded. In a courtroom, the rich guy should not be favored over the poor guy and vice versa; it’s just the law.

Unfortunately, there are many people coming out of schools and academia, even public schools, who have been trained over the years to think they are special snowflakes; who can be the change they wish to see in the world. […] With the level of social media that we now have, everyone can look at their Twitter feed and feel like they have their own TV station. Or they have a blog with colorful graphics which they think gives them a famous voice […]. They are these change agents in the world, and if you disagree with them, since they are trying to change the world for the better and you’re in their way, you are trying to ruin the world. So they have to destroy you. Instead of being tolerant of varying viewpoints and having a back and forth dialogue, they try to shut you up by calling you names, or doxxing you, as they say; making threats behind the anonymity of a Twitter feed.

I think it’s important just to stand tall and know your argument. It seems that the #GamerGate supporters are, in my opinion, winning the argument or have already won the argument. Although the battle will continue, as social justice warriors never give up. The revolution is never ending; there is always the struggle in their minds. The companies that are dealing with this will see, or won’t see, in their bottom lines and will have to deal with it accordingly. 

APGNation: Many are considering the recent leak of the GameJournoPros e-mail chain (originally reported by Breitbart.com) as the smoking gun proving unethical business practices for some of the industry’s most influential gaming sites. What changes do you feel are necessary moving forward for trust to be returned to gaming journalists by their readers?

AB: A great example is over in the form of Archon (Alexander Macri) at the Escapist Mag. […] The Escapist Magazine, and Archon over there, created a series of ethical guidelines and regulations for his company that are honest and transparent. If there are conflicts of interest, that they be open about it. Why can’t the other companies do that? On the other hand, they are private entities. They can run the business any way they like to and the marketplace will determine whether that’s valuable or not. 

It’s important to recognize that the broader media has seen ratings decline for many different reasons. […] The traditional go-to sources, the New York Times for instance, has financial trouble. The Washington Post was recently sold off for $1, and there’s a reason for that. The consumers of their product were dissatisfied with their bias.

Gamers are a sleeping giant who have been awakened, and my money’s on the sleeping giant.

My old friend Andrew Breitbart, the late great Andrew Breitbart, passed away sadly a few years ago. He was a biased guy, but he was up front about it. He said yes, I am a former leftist turned right wing activist, and I’m up front about it. He said he was going to argue the constitution, and freedom of speech, and transparency, and that he was an open book. His beef was with so called non-partisan journalists that claimed the mantle of non-partisanship, and yet, they were partisan; they were just hiding it. That goes back to their training in journalism schools. It all depends on what their role is. If you’re a Sean Hannity or a Rachel Maddow you wear your opinion on your sleeve no problem […]. Everyone knows who you are and where you come from; you’re on the left or the right, and that’s honest at least. It’s the ones who claim to be unbiased that are completely biased.  

APGNation: While this isn’t true about everyone in the industry, a number of gaming bloggers and journalists position themselves as journalists without any formal journalism training. Do you feel this is the root cause of this controversy? Or do you feel this stems more simply from a lack of transparency?

AB: [For those with journalism training] it goes back to their journalism school. What are they trained to do? Are they trained to be agents of change where they can become people who are making the world better? Or are they straight journalists/reporters? There’s a difference. This is why this has blown up in the gaming industry and the press. There was a lack of humility and transparency, and in turn, there was a smug arrogance of ridicule. 

When this thing first took off there were a lot of complaints about threats and all that. That may well have happened, and it’s from mostly anonymous sources, and yeah that’s stuff you have to deal with. Report it to the police and get a record of it […]. However, for those who are claiming that they are getting bullied or harassed should see my Twitter feed. You should see Archon’s feed. We don’t complain about it because we see it is just the flailings of desperate people trying to silence us; we understand that. We’re acting like adults, and I’m very glad that other adults have stepped into the room on this.

They may not be willing to come forward, but behind the scenes they are there

I think there are a number of people who are realizing if they had just acted a bit more humble, and been a little more contrite, and said, “we made some mistakes, but we’re going to fix it,” this would have been done on day one. It’s going to continue on until the gamers win. They are programmed to win, and there are more of them than the press. The press may think they are going to get away with it and not talk about it, and they can live in their little bubble. But there will be a ripple; […] there are always ripples of battle and there will be an effect. Those who are up front about it will have more success over time than the ones that aren’t. 

I appreciate your publication reaching out and asking for different opinions. Varying viewpoints are how the reader can make the decision. Not to be preached to by so-called reporters. And again, punditry is fine, as long as you are up front about it.

APGNation: Recently, you started a radio show with tech Milo Yiannopoulos. Have you considered reaching out to your connections within the industry to appear on a TV news outlet to address the issues on a larger platform? 

AB: It’s really not my role to do that. I’m happy to be a part of it. I just threw a hashtag up and called it #GamerGate after Watergate… because I was alive during Watergate and I remember it. It’s a tag that you put on all types of scandals and look what it did. It raised awareness of it and I think some people are angry about that. 

But to answer your question, no I don’t feel that is necessary. I think the online community can handle it as best they can. I don’t want to be a figurehead of this. I’m not anyone’s special champion; I’m just a conduit who has a little megaphone on Twitter. We’ll see how it plays out, […] but gamers are a sleeping giant who have been awakened, and my money’s on the sleeping giant

APGNation: What, if any, blowback have you received from your involvement with #GamerGate?

AB: I’ve received a lot of blowback on Twitter, but that is the extent of it. […] There are folks in the business who are wholeheartedly in favor of #GamerGate. They are glad the transparency is sussing it all out… they are happy about it. They may not be willing to come forward, but behind the scenes they are there; I’ve heard it.

APGNation: Many news outlets have stated #GamerGate is dead. Do you feel the cause has died or is this simply positioning by those who oppose #GamerGate?

AB: The latter. It is a long war. This was a skirmish that lasted a lot longer than any of the warriors thought it would. It’s very coincidental too, and I’m not a conspiracy theorist… I’ve seen conspiracies running around and some of them make sense if you look at them closely.

Once gamers find out where the key is to unlock something they will always remember. They aren’t going to forget this

But you can’t deny the fact that there is a certain education out there that abides by this way of reporting and thinking. […] Is it a coordinated conspiracy? Well, you can point to the document dump of the e-mails certainly as a coordination, if not a full-blown conspiracy. There were exceptions to the rule in the GamerJournoPro thread. There were certainly people who felt uncomfortable about that, and kudos to them. They recognize journalistic ethics and abide by them.

But the question is where does it go? What’s the long war and how does it suss out? The consumers, the ones who buy games and are aware of this situation, they are ultimately going to be the decision makers because they are the ones who will gravitate more towards certain businesses and their practices. They will remember who [was] mean, and who [was] cruel, and who censored things on supposedly open boards and open conversation forums. Once gamers find out where the key is to unlock something they will always remember. They aren’t going to forget this. Obviously there is a lot of press out there for the mainstream audience, but they aren’t necessarily the ones who buy the games. It’s a long war.

[…] There’s a person [online] named TotalBiscuit who has reached out to those on the other side who have gone quiet since this began, to have an open forum to discuss the issues. […] I hope that they accept that offer and that they are able to experience some introspection and realize that mistakes were made with their communication. If your customers are saying that as an outlet you are giving out bad information and not communicating with your audience in the way they like, then your [outlets’] communication has to change. They need to step up and face the music, and I think they can earn some respect back depending on what their violations were.

APGNation: What is next on the horizon for you, Adam? What upcoming projects would you like our readers to be aware of? 

AB: Last year we worked on a show, The Last Ship on TNT. We’re going back next month for season 2 and we are very excited. We did ten episodes in season one, and we are doing thirteen episodes for season two. Your readers can find the show on TNT, as well as on Amazon. It’s a Michael Bay Production action adventure set in the near future, where there’s a global pandemic taking place that we have to figure out. The premise of the show is to stay alive, find a cure to this disease, and save the world.

Thanks again to Adam Baldwin for taking the time to speak with me. It was great to get the chance to talk about #GamerGate with someone like Baldwin with unique insight into the media as a whole, looking at it from both sides of the screen. Many topics were broached; the conversation regarding #GamerGate is far from over. As Baldwin stated above, “It’s a long war.” 

Well Nation, do you feel #GamerGate is over, or has it just begun? With the recent leaked GameJournoPro e-mail chain, do you feel that change is finally on the horizon? How do you feel the conversation is evolving now that the gaming community is getting a bit more insight into the lack of transparency from some members of the gaming media?

Make sure to follow APGNation on Twitter for the latest breaking gaming news, and check out Adam Baldwin’s TV show The Last Ship on TNT and Amazon.

Until next time Nation, I’ll be in my bunk. Thanks for reading and if you like what we are doing here, then support us with a Follow, Like, Retweet or Share! We are here because of you guys, so keep fighting!

*Due to the normal flow of verbal conversation, some of the responses above were paraphrased or parsed, however the tone and/or meaning of the responses were not altered in any way.

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Sean Winnett
Written by

Sean Winnett is a Marketing and Public Relations professional based in Boise, Idaho. He is also a video game journalist covering everything from gaming industry news to video game reviews and eSporting coverage. He received his degree in Mass Communication & Journalism from Boise State University in 2010, and has spent time working for some of the largest Marketing, Advertising & PR agencies in the Pacific Northwest. In addition to gaming, Sean is a diehard fan of College Football and spends his free time playing guitar, acting as the commissioner of a college football fantasy league and keeping up with his favorite TV shows (Doctor Who, The League, & The Walking Dead).

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